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Deals of the Year

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  • Frontier markets are in vogue and there are few markets less tapped than Iraq. It is perhaps fitting, then, that in February 2013 Iraq produced the biggest IPO in the Gulf region since the 2008 global financial crisis: the $1.2 billion listing of mobile phone firm Asiacell.
  • In a lacklustre year for dealmaking in emerging Europe, the acquisition of Czech gas transmission firm Net4Gas by German insurer Allianz and the infrastructure arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System stood out by virtue of its complexity and the competitiveness of the bidding process.
  • This deal – led by BTG Pactual after an aborted attempt by Barclays the year before – was the first truly project finance structured bond issued in Brazil. It was also the first debenture to be distributed pursuant to rule 144a/RegS in the international market and the first with a final maturity of 15 years (the previous maximum tenor was 12 years). Despite facing strong volatility and sharp deterioration in market conditions (rise in interest rates, change in Brazil’s rating outlook and the prospect of Fed stimulus tapering), Rodovias do Tiete was able to place fully the R$1.065 billion ($440 million) transaction – facilitated by the firm underwriting commitment provided by the lead and co-bookrunners. The volatility in the markets was of consequence: in the same week BNDESPar and Iguatemi cancelled their debenture and real-estate asset-backed securities (CRI) transactions, respectively.
  • Abu Dhabi has regained confidence since Aldar and Sorouh’s merger. Real estate and equity indices have risen. There has been a surge in new deals from state investment fund Mubadala, the biggest Aldar shareholder (a position that in part led Mubadala to a loss in 2010, because of fair-value write-downs).
  • After a lousy 2012 for Brazilian equities, followed by an unpromising start to 2013 and a deterioration in investor sentiment towards Brazil’s macroeconomic environment, it was perhaps surprising that the world’s biggest IPO of the year was from Brazil. And the spin-off of BB Seguridade – Banco do Brasil’s insurance division – was also one of the best-performing IPOs. Proof, if it were needed, that deals that are priced and marketed well succeed in Latin America’s largest market.
  • In a landmark deal on November 6 2013, Transnet, a state-owned freight-logistics company, became the first South African company to issue a rand-denominated bond on the international capital markets.
  • The sale of HSBC Bank Panama to Bancolombia was one of the largest M&A deals of the year and was transformative to the financial services industry in the fastest-growing economy in Latin America. The deal value was $2.1 billion based on estimated 2012 price to book value of 3.0x and 2012 estimated P/E of 16.9x. HSBC Panama was the second-largest bank in Panama, with a 17% market share in loans, 16% in deposits and 5% in insurance premiums. With the acquisition, Bancolombia adds total assets of $7.6 billion, deposits of $5.8 billion and shareholder’ equity of $800 million to its Panamanian operations to create a presence in a very attractive economy and banking industry. It also further enhances the movement of Colombia’s biggest banks northwards as they seek regional expansion and diversification. Bancolombia becomes the largest bank in Panama and central America and is expected to double the contribution of international earnings to about 20% of total.
  • The largest integrated oil and gas producer in Indonesia is government owned and is also the de facto owner of all oil and gas reserves across the country.
  • There was no shortage of bond issuance from emerging Europe in the early part of 2013 before tapering fears set in. While deal sizes and volumes hit record levels, however, innovation was thin on the ground.
  • Announced in July 2012, this high-profile deal by CNOOC, the world’s largest independent oil exploration and production company, to acquire Nexen closed in February last year. The deal is the largest ever acquisition of a foreign target by a Chinese company and was three times oversubscribed, with over $18.1 billion of commitments received. Citi advised CNOOC, acting as sole coordinating bank on the $6 billion term loan facility, while Goldman Sachs and RBC advised Nexen.
  • Despite the emergence of signs of recovery across the region, central and eastern Europe saw surprisingly little in the way of eye-catching deal flow in 2013. Activity in both M&A and equity capital markets remained subdued. The bond market feeding frenzy in the first half of the year produced some big transactions, but was short on innovation and complexity.
  • The head of Nigeria’s Dangote Industries, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, signed a $3.3 billion deal on September 4 2013 to finance the building of the largest oil refinery in Nigeria.
  • Twitter set an IPO landmark.
  • Vedanta and its bookrunners gave the market a lesson in how to get a deal done in volatile times both through its opportunistic timing and the deal’s execution.
  • In 2010, with questions surrounding how Rwanda could fund costly, large-scale projects including a convention centre and national carrier RwandAir, policymakers were forced to look for innovative ways to raise cash.
  • Chapter 11 bankruptcy is never a cheering experience, but in Arcapita’s case it has created an important precedent for the Middle East, where – even after the crises of 2008 and 2009 – restructurings have been extensions of loans, largely because of undeveloped local bankruptcy laws.
  • Another year of volatility and underperformance in equity markets kept the majority of IPO candidates from emerging Europe on the sidelines in 2013. Of the few that did venture out, Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines caught the eye for its ability to negotiate a fragile market environment and resilient aftermarket performance.
  • Initial public offerings in Hong Kong during the first half of last year were something of a novelty.
  • On top of the Aldar-Sorouh merger, the financing of the second phase of Emirates Aluminium (Emal) added to Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s resurgent confidence in 2013.
  • As one of the region’s most dynamic sectors, the telecommunications industry in Africa is highly competitive. But in Nigeria – the continent’s second-largest economy – MTN Nigeria’s recent syndicated deal has given the telecommunications giant the edge over its peers.
  • Euromoney’s deals of the year for 2013 show that, despite prolonged periods of market uncertainty, smart issuers and their advisers managed to get some remarkable things done.
  • EdF changed the hybrid game.
  • Liberty Global now dominates cable with takeover of Virgin Media.
  • While the Twitter float was news across the world, another of Euromoney’s deals of the year took place in a far more esoteric corner of the market. It is not often that a structured-finance transaction attracts almost universal praise from competitors across the market, but Freddie Mac’s Structured Agency Credit Risk (STACR) did just this in June last year. And in many ways its impact is far greater than that of the much more discussed Twitter deal.
  • When it launched in March, this was the largest equity sale of the year, popping healthily on its first day.
  • The improved economic performance of the Philippines has been one of the stories of the past year in Asia Pacific. On October 29, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the Republic of the Philippines to Ba1 from Ba2 as a result of its continued fiscal revenue strength in the face of deteriorating global demand and its decent growth prospects over the medium term. The Philippines debt portfolio has become longer in tenor, its new-issue yield has decreased and its foreign-currency-denominated bonds are receiving a substantial bid from onshore investors.
  • Early last year, a heavy gloom had settled over most of the equity markets of the Asia Pacific region and ECM bankers were complaining to anyone who would listen about how bored they were, bemoaning choppy trading conditions for scaring companies away from doing deals. So when US insurer American International Group (AIG) raised $6 billion through the sale of its stake in AIA in March it provided the market with a much-needed reason to celebrate. With the benefit of hindsight, though, the block trade provided what turned out to be false hope of a wider equity market revival. The fact that it did not lead to a flurry of deal activity, however, does little to diminish the achievement in getting such a large deal away in the midst of multiple and often severe challenges. Although the deal priced at the bottom of its range, with a maximum 7% discount to the stock, it was a very big transaction – the second-largest block trade ever in Asia after China Mobile. And it provided a sense that if a particular deal was fundamentally sound, it could be priced and could fly in spite of volatility in the underlying markets. At the time of the trade, Dixit Joshi, head of global markets equity for Asia at Deutsche Bank, told Euromoney: "The fact we were able to do a $6 billion trade on an Asian underlying, and get it done robustly in a manner where the seller and the investors are happy, tells you about the depth of the capital markets here right now."
  • When a prime gas infrastructure asset is put up for sale in one of the richest and most powerful and well-regulated economies in the world it will always attract interest from potential acquirers keen to snap up a prized asset that could deliver attractive long-term returns.
  • The same month brought another impressive debt deal from the Gulf, this time from International Petroleum Investment Corporation (Ipic), Abu Dhabi’s state-backed investment group for the energy sector worldwide. This was a big, multi-currency offering, raising $2.9 billion equivalent in three tranches: a $750 million three-year, a €800 million 5.5-year and a €850 million 10.5-year.
  • One of the big equity themes in Latin America in 2012 was that issuance from companies outside Brazil, and from Mexico in particular, enjoyed a strong year. Santander Mexico’s $4.1 billion IPO is one of the deals of the year because of its size and its secondary markets performance. In a domestic market dominated by foreign banks, Santander’s local listing is an important development for the bank and the market. It was the third-largest IPO in the world in 2012 and the second-largest-ever SEC-registered IPO by a Latin American issuer (behind Santander Brazil’s 2009 IPO). It also performed very well in the secondary markets. Contrasting with the two larger IPOs in 2012 – those of Facebook and Japan Airlines – the deal was trading up after five days and is still above the launch price (by 13%) at the time of going to press. Speaking to Euromoney immediately after the deal launched, underwriters said Santander, which was left lead, would have lost some of the large bids from long-only accounts had it tried to move the price above the middle of the range. It therefore opted to price at the middle of its Ps29 to Ps33 range to generate Ps52.81 billion. The global marketing effort incorporated anchor sales to sovereign wealth funds and a 14-day roadshow schedule, with three teams visiting 384 investors in 24 cities.